Poetry London Prize 2020: Highly Commended

Sean Cooper

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A democracy in decline has a need for poetry
and a democracy in decline has no need for poetry.

Our attention span for text has dropped, so we ban 
high-capacity magazines. “From my cold dead finger guns.”

We must admit America is nothing if not modern
and America is nothing. We must admit “tradition itself

requires radical attacks on tradition” (De Kooning) 
and tradition itself requires radical attacks.

After the active shooter drill, I could hardly breathe 
for laughing. Be a courteous and active shooter

engaged in the lives of your children. With great aplomb,
he loads another magazine into his finger guns. With great aplomb,

we are forcibly reminded not to normalize Nazis.
I remind you not to normalize normality.